Monday, March 24, 2008

While we're on the subject...

There was a rather good article in the Scotsman a few days ago about the SNP's - specifically Salmond's - foreign policy posturing:
"If Alex Salmond ever finds himself the leader of an independent Scotland, though, with his own troops to deploy and life-or-death decisions to make, he will find that, for all but the most committed pacifists, these choices are far more complex than most anti-war rhetoric allows.

It is to be hoped that no future independent Scottish government – or, indeed, any future UK government – would ever again be tempted to make the mistake of joining a peacekeeping, or peacemaking, operation without the full sanction of the United Nations. But that clear policy position aside, the act of sending young men and women to risk their lives, in situations where there can never be complete certainty that their sacrifice will do more good than harm, is always controversial, never easy, never without its lingering sense of guilt."
I don't think Scotland will ever be independent to the extent it has its own army but it's still a problem of devolved politics that it, in the hands of the nationalists, allows those who are in power to pose with the convenient innocence of opposition. Oliver Kamm linked to this story a while back where the Iranian ambassador said that Scotland and Iran shared "similar views" on many issues, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and nuclear non-proliferation. What Oliver didn't mention was the response from Salmond's office:
"A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "The ambassador is doing no more than recognising that the party now forming the Scottish Government was opposed to the war in Iraq – as, indeed, are a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament."
This clearly isn't all the ambassador was doing and you'd think that the SNP might have done more to resist this rather obvious attempt to use devolution to undermine foreign policy commitments that are matters solely reserved for Westminster. They could have at the very least shown their support for the Scottish troops currently stationed in Afghanistan - given that our present First Minister voted in Westminster in favour of the war. But they didn't - which was rather the point of the Scotsman article:
"I once heard the philosopher Bernard Williams argue that politicians are people who dirty their hands with power on our behalf, so that the rest of us can continue to feel clean. Yet Alex Salmond, though now a very senior politician, still talks of war and peace like a man with clean hands, exonerated from guilt by his very Scottishness; small wonder that to anyone with a feeling for history, that cry of "it wisnae us" often has an empty sound, and never quite rings true."

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